Florida’s Tower Hill Prime Gets Revised Outlooks to Negative From A.M. Best

October 4, 2017

A.M. Best has revised the outlooks to negative from stable and affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of A- (Excellent) and Long Term Issuer Credit Rating of “a-” of Tower Hill Prime Insurance Co., headquartered in Gainesville, Fla.

According to Best, the revised outlooks reflects multiple years of unfavorable underwriting performance as a result of weather-related losses, adverse development and the ongoing pressure stemming from the assignment of benefits (AOB) issue in Florida.

Operating performance is not expected to improve in 2017 as the impact of Hurricane Irma is projected to drive an underwriting loss for the year, Best said, and loss estimates from the event have been incorporated into A.M. Best’s review. While hurricanes have been a significant factor in leading to deteriorated performance, the increased frequency and severity of water claims has also played a prominent role over the last few years. Hurricanes Irma and Matthew, as well as the AOB loss impacts, illustrate the elevated risk that Tower Hill Prime is exposed to given the majority of its business is concentrated in Florida. These risks are partially mitigated through a comprehensive reinsurance program.

Despite the negative outlook, Best said Tower Hill Prime’s ratings reflect its appropriate risk-adjusted capitalization which is enriched by demonstrated support from an affiliated managing general agent (MGA). Over the past five years, the MGA has contributed significant capital into the company to offset operating losses and improve overall capitalization, particularly in the most recent two years. Furthermore, Best added that management has initiated several measures to improve operating results, which include rate increases, improved contract language and non-renewal of unprofitable business.

Negative rating action could occur if operating performance continues to be materially unfavorable or from erosion in surplus and subsequently risk-adjusted capitalization.

Update:

In a statement from Tower Hill to Insurance Journal, the company said it is pleased that A.M. Best recently reaffirmed its “A-” (Excellent) Financial Strength Rating for Tower Hill Prime Insurance Company. And, as part of its annual review process, A.M. Best revised Tower Hill Prime’s outlook from stable to negative citing concerns regarding Tower Hill Prime’s lack of operating profitability.

“A.M. Best’s concerns centered around the difficult underwriting environment that has existed in Florida the last few years due to increased water claims frequency and the associated Assignment of Benefits (AoB) crisis,” the statement from Don Matz, president of Tower Hill. “While disappointed in the revised outlook, Tower Hill shares these same concerns. In 2015, Tower Hill recognized these issues and began taking a number of steps to address them and return Tower Hill Prime to profitability. As these measures began to take hold and improve results, the underwriting gains were unfortunately offset by Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017.

“Tower Hill has been a leader in the Florida residential property insurance market for 45 years with financially strong and secure insurance companies. We are fully committed to improving Tower Hill Prime’s profitability as we move forward with the anticipation of returning to a stable outlook in 2018.”

Source: A.M. Best

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